Prithwiraj Choudhury

Assistant Professor of Business Administration

Biography

Prithwiraj (Raj) Choudhury is an assistant professor of business administration in the Technology and Operations Management Unit. He joined the HBS faculty after three years as an assistant professor at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Professor Choudhury studies human capital with a focus on knowledge workers in emerging markets. The major areas of inquiry concern human capital mobility and the migration of skilled workers, employability of graduates in emerging markets, and the development of human capital. He was awarded the Haynes Prize by the Academy of International Business and recognized as the most promising scholar under the age of 40 in the field of international business. Professor Choudhury earned his DBA at HBS, receiving the Wyss Doctoral Research Award. He also holds degrees from the Indian Institute of Management and the Indian Institute of Technology. Before pursuing his doctorate, he worked at McKinsey & Company, IBM, and Microsoft Corporation.

  1. Overview

    by Prithwiraj Choudhury

    Professor Choudhury’s research is focused on human capital and has three broad themes. The first focuses on human capital mobility and skilled migration. Using personnel data from global entities and natural experiments within firms, Professor Choudhury studies how return migration, within-country migration, and intrafirm mobility affects innovation outcomes and the productivity of individuals. The second theme focuses on the employability of graduates from emerging markets, as well as labor market search and training strategies for firms. The third theme concerns the development of human capital. Through micro personnel data from organizations around the world, Professor Choudhury studies how the workplace context can shape employee productivity and human capital. This work involves both designing interventions within firms as well as studying natural experiments within firms. In addition to focusing on human capital, in prior research, Professor Choudhury has also studied knowledge flows from emerging market entities to the west.
  2. Innovation Outcomes in a Distributed Organization: Intra-Firm Mobility and Access to Resources

    by Prithwiraj Choudhury

    Prior research has established a relation between intra-firm mobility and innovation outcomes at distributed organizations. The literature has also uniformly agreed on the mechanism underlying this relationship: the sharing of tacit knowledge and recombination of ideas that occurs because of intra-firm mobility. But a second mechanism may also be at work: intra-firm mobility might help distant employees secure access to resources for their innovative projects. Using unique data on travel, employment, and patenting for 1,315 inventors at the Indian R&D center of a Fortune 50 multinational, I find that intra-firm mobility in the form of short-duration business trips from a distant R&D location to headquarters is positively related to higher subsequent patenting at the individual level. I also find mobility immediately prior to meetings at which R&D funds are most likely to be disbursed to be related to higher subsequent patenting. This study sheds new light on how intra-firm mobility and possible face-to-face interactions with those who allocate resources might affect innovation outcomes and the matching of resources to individuals within a distributed organization.

    Keywords: innovation; intra-firm mobility; R&D;

  3. Sink or Swim: The Role of Workplace Context in Shaping Career Advancement and Human-Capital Development

    by Prithwiraj Choudhury

    We develop and test predictions on how early-career challenges arising from the workplace context affect short- and long-term career advancement of individuals. Typically an organization’s decision to deploy a manager to one of several possible contexts is endogenous to unobservable factors, and selection makes it challenging to disentangle the effect of workplace context on individual career advancement. We work around this problem by studying an organization, the Indian Administrative Services, which deploys entry-level managers quasi-randomly across India. We find that managers deployed to more challenging contexts early in their careers experience faster career advancement in the short term. We present suggestive evidence that this is because challenging contexts provide managers more opportunities to develop skills (‘crucible experiences’), and a greater motivation to relocate out of the challenging context. We also find that managers deployed to a challenging context early in their careers continue to experience faster advancement in the long term, suggesting that initial deployment to a challenging context is associated with human capital development. Managers initially deployed to more challenging contexts were not, however, more likely to break into the upper echelons of the organization.

    Keywords: context; location; Workplace context; Career advancement; Performance; individuals; promotion; crucible experiences; motivation; internal mobility; human capital development; microfoundations;

  4. Return migration and geography of innovation in MNEs: a natural experiment of knowledge production by local workers reporting to 5 return migrants

    by Prithwiraj Choudhury

    I study whether return migrants facilitate knowledge production by local employees
    working for them at geographically distant research and development (R&D) locations.
    Using unique personnel and patenting data for 1315 employees at the Indian R&D
    center of a Fortune 500 technology firm, I exploit a natural experiment where the
    assignment of managers for newly hired college graduates is mandated by rigid HR
    rules and is uncorrelated to observable characteristics of the graduates. Given this
    assignment protocol, I find that local employees with returnee managers file
    disproportionately more US patents. I also find some evidence that return migrants
    act as a ‘bridge’ to transfer knowledge from the MNE headquarters to the local
    employees working for them.

    Keywords: Return migration; knowledge production; multinational enterprise; internal labor markets;

  5. Contextual Knowledge and Ethnic Migrant Inventors

    by Prithwiraj Choudhury

    We study the role of ethnic Chinese/Indian migrant inventors in transferring contextual knowledge across borders and the role of ethnic networks in further disseminating such knowledge. Using a unique dataset of herbal patents filed in the United States by western firms and universities, we test whether contextual knowledge is codified in the west by ethnic migrant inventors and spread by their ethnic networks. Our identification comes from an exogenous shock to the quota of H1B visas, and a list of institutions that were exempted from the shock. We generate a control group of non-herbal patents that have similar medicinal purposes as our herbal patents through textual matching. Using this framework, we estimate a triple differences equation, and find that herbal patents are likely to be filed by Chinese/Indian migrant inventors and are likely to be initially cited by other Chinese/Indian inventors. We also find that Chinese/Indian migrant inventors are likely to engage in arbitraging their prior knowledge, while inventors from other ethnic backgrounds are likely to engage in knowledge recombination.

    Keywords: contextual knowledge; knowledge flows; Ethnic Networks; skilled migration; knowledge arbitrage; knowledge recombination; textual analysis of patents; H-1B Visas;